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7 Ways To Turn Your Thoughts Into Reality

7 Ways To Turn Your Thoughts Into Reality

Your mind is where your reality begins. Most of us don’t know how to think productively however – how to turn our thoughts and dreams into something concrete.The obstacles are many – procrastination, lack of motivation, fear of failure. It’s important to not forget, however, that our thoughts ultimately blueprint our destinies. I’ll take a look at complementing a thought with tricks to make your thoughts turn into a reality. So without further ado…

1. Connect it with the bigger picture

If anything sounds like it’s not worth it, remember this: someone will read your eulogy one day. Let’s suppose they held the entire list of all your thoughts. The thoughts that produced great change. The thoughts that snowballed from little habits into bigger effects. Even the thoughts that didn’t account to much. Will they be able to tell the underlying patterns? What causes will prove that your life was dedicated to something bigger than yourself? All of your thoughts are categorized in one mysteriously interconnected network, so let loose and don’t be afraid to associate a thought with your own grand visions for the future, the world, life, and even the universe itself. This will cement a more imaginative plan into something more concrete. You may also feel more motivated to start doing, knowing that your thinking isn’t isolated and random, but a good representation of everything you want to be!

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2. Practice productive procrastination

Side projects are important. They’re the stuff you throw yourself in when no one is watching, and the pastime you would rather dabble in than do work. Despite this, procrastination is still the epitome of lacking productivity, right? Enter a more refined type of procrastination: productive procrastination. Find a few little projects you’re ready to get started in. Work on the one which feels more appealing, then bump to another when you’re sick of that one, and then jump back to the other one in a virtuous cycle. Productive procrastination can drastically increase your productivity, and you’ll feel like you’re actually accomplishing more.

3. Find the right group of people first

When surrounded with the right group of people, we’re much more likely to give reality to our thoughts. The right group of people are those who support your thoughts, challenge your assumptions, help you out when you’re stuck, and obviously steal your own ideas. Now it’s easier than ever to find them. The internet is packed with countless communities dedicated to countless interests, and that’s just one part. Meet-ups and clubs situated in a hands-on environment are available where you live, and if you can’t find one you’re interested in, why not start one? Upon surrounding yourself with positive influences, your thoughts will come alive and grow stronger than in isolation.

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4. Categorize thoughts based on their value

There’s an unbelievable amount of stimuli rotating in your brain. That stimuli branches into the unconscious, and you’re supposedly left with little conscious ability to direct its power or flow. It’s obvious that we’re caught in ingrained patterns and impulses, and lost in the grind of unconscious thinking. After all, our brains often run on autopilot; we’re not hyper-aware of everything, nor will we ever be. Bring these scattered thoughts into the light with a spreadsheet and one week. Track a thought and a SMART goal to achieve it. You’ll soon notice an inquisitive pattern – and find out which thoughts to implement and the ones to throw out.

5. Use the SMART goal system

Good goal-making is a mark of the good life. Those who plan well live well. So why do people build their thoughts on less than adequate goals every day? Maybe it’s because not enough of them try the SMART goal system. This method incorporates specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-worthy steps into doing just about anything. You might want to lose weight. The typical response is to write it down and get excited about it. But how much weight needs to be lost before you can accomplish it? What can you use to track it? Is it attainable in circumstances like health and money? What date must be set to justify accomplishing it, and is it even realistic in that time-frame? Now you got a workout more intense than a marathon!

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6. Remix productivity techniques

Hacking life is a modern technique. With so many productivity techniques to choose from in the 21st century, who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? The first step is to learn more about productivity in general. Devour anything you can find – books, articles, blogs, clippings of magazines. Take a course and attempt a technique. Then try another. One of my favorite examples is to start a 25-minute timer in a Pomodoro fashion while working on productive procrastination. The possibilities are nearly limitless learning.

7. Track your life

Let’s finish with a habit-tracking app. Habit tracking apps are exactly what they sound like – they track your progress of keeping up with a habit over time. Choose a tiny habit that is very easy to change, and you’re much more likely to continue with it. Watch it expand over time. Observe the data. Then gradually increase it until you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to do every day. Don’t be afraid to experiment; you can also track elements like your mood, nutrition, sleep, exercise, goals, and to-do lists.

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How do you turn your thoughts into reality?

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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